A positive aspect of faith?

March 10, 2007 at 4:06 am 11 comments

plusAs ex-fundamentalist Christians, many times we focus on the negative aspects of the Judeo-Christian & Islamic faiths. Religion has blessed us with the crusades, the witch burnings, 9/11, acts of terrorism, the subjection of women, racism, intolerance, condemnation, and I can go on listing things that make many of us stand up and become very angry and hateful towards these religious systems and those who propagate them.

However, there is another aspect to religion. I’ve seen ‘faith’ change someone overnight. I’ve seen drug addicts walk away from drugs, alcoholics dramatically set free from alcoholism, evil people transformed, suicidal victims given hope, and a host of other dramatic turns. There are people who would be so very lonely if not for their belief that Jesus is with them. They communicate with him and he brings them comfort.

The reality is these people need that belief to save them from themselves. They are convinced that without God they are not good or have morals. They need the rules to guide them because they believe that their hearts are evil.

How can we reconcile these two things? I personally know people that would totally fall apart if it wasn’t for their faith. It is what keeps them going and gives them hope to make it to another day.

On one hand, I cannot ignore the atrocities of religion but on the other hand, I know that there are so many people out there who believe it’s what they need to live successful lives.

I’m interested in the views of others (primarily ex-Christians and atheists) on this subject as it is one with which I struggle.

- The de-Convert

Entry filed under: The de-Convert. Tags: , , , , , , .

With sincere apologies to the ladies Christians do not believe in the God of the Bible

11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. augustrose  |  March 10, 2007 at 4:29 am

    “I’ve seen ‘faith’ change someone overnight. I’ve seen drug addicts walk away from drugs, alcoholics dramatically set free from alcoholism, evil people transformed, suicidal victims given hope, and a host of other dramatic turns. There are people who would be so very lonely if not for their belief that Jesus is with them. They communicate with him and he brings them comfort.”

    You’re absolutely right. I was one of those people. However, you continue to say:

    “The reality is these people need that belief to save them from themselves. They are convinced that without God they are not good or have morals. They need the rules to guide them because they believe that their hearts are evil.”

    In the Christian world “belief” is called faith. A simple definition of faith is believing that the Word of God is true (and absolute authority). I can’t entirely say I didn’t need someone to save me from myself. I was suicidal. Drinking. Empty. Depressed. Searching. You may not have been all or any of those, but I do see you qualify for searching. Finding peace with my Maker, surrendering my failures and successes to Him and serving Him wholeheartedly has altered my future forever.

    You said, “They are convinced that without God they are not good or have morals.” Unfortunately, I was a “good person.” I grew up being taught morals and manners. But something huge was missing. Inside of me there was a God-sized void and as much as I tried to fill it with things/people/work it wouldn’t go away. And then I found what fit — what filled that void.

    You also said, “They need the rules to guide them because they believe that their hearts are evil.” Someone can not come to Jesus unless they set themselves aside. The Bible we cling to does say that our good works and deeds are basically rubbish. There’s no way we can earn good standing on our own. That’s why Jesus had to come. So that we would have a mediator between us and God. Someone who was perfect who would stand in our place and pay the price for all our past and future sins.

    I didn’t understand the Bible for years. The Old Testament was full of God’s wrath and horrible things, but I discovered over the years there’s a simple way to read it and understand it better. But the OT wasn’t written with an understanding of an enemy of all mankind, the devil. They believed God did both good and evil, you just didn’t know what mood He’d be in from moment to moment.

    But in the New Testament, it tells us clearly that Jesus came to 1) destroy the works of the enemy and 2) reveal the handiwork of the devil. The Bible credits God as being good and the devil as being bad. The devil steals, kills and destroys. God sent Jesus so we could have life and have it in abundance.

    Now I don’t have the answers for everything, but there are a few things that I know for sure. God is good. The devil is bad. There’s a world full of people who are still confused about it and it drives people away from the loving God who has supplied everything they need in this life and the one to come.

    I do hope your searching has a positive end.
    augustrose

  • 2. momlovesbeingathome  |  March 10, 2007 at 5:00 am

    First, I’d like to say that augustrose made some great points! My comment is- the negative aspects of religion that you mentioned are acts by people – not God. The positive acts that you mentioned are things that God has done – not people. God is good and wants what’s best for us – some choose to ignore the ways of God and they do things that are not godly but claim to do them in the name of God -saying that they are doing these things in the name of God doesn’t make them godly. Don’t look to people to understand God – people will disappoint you every time. Look to God – He will never disappoint you.

    I hope this helps. :)

  • 3. augustrose  |  March 10, 2007 at 5:04 am

    Excellent, momlovesbeingathome. Good post. People always disappoint, God does not. And the church world is plagued with people who proclaim to be acting out the thoughts of God when they are only promoting a ball-and-chain Gospel. Not at all what God intended.

  • 4. Coops  |  March 10, 2007 at 6:31 am

    Sorry I’m not an atheist, but I’ll just be quick.

    Maybe it’s that “religion” (as an institutionalized set of principles and philosophies) is awful.

    However, “faith” (such as the early Christian church that was organic & peaceful & often persecuted for their beliefs) is fantastic.

    So the next two questions are:
    1. Does that faith exist somewhere in people’s hearts?
    2. Will I decide that only good can come from that sort of faith & chase after it?

  • 5. skywhale  |  March 10, 2007 at 9:36 pm

    I wonder if you’re open to the possibility that the “faith” you’ve been exposed to thus far in your life isn’t the only type of faith that exists.

  • 6. augustrose  |  March 10, 2007 at 11:56 pm

    Greetings! Coops, if you’re asking my opinion (which isn’t that the thing blogs are made of?) then I would say that religion stinks and faith (as defined) is fantastic. I believe the faith exists or is born the instant someone hears and believes the Good News/Gospel/message of what Jesus did for them.

    If you asked me the second question, I’d say I know first-hand it comes from that kind of faith and I’m thrilled I don’t have to chase after it. I already have it. It’s mine. I own it, so to speak.

    Now will you decide that only good can come from that sort of faith and chase after it, I don’t know. I have, however, already decided. “That sort of faith” is where the real life, peace, joy, happiness, etc. comes from. The evil-twin, religion, can offer only hollow promises and has given “the real faith” a bad name.

    And skywhale, I’d say that what I know and live isn’t the only faith. Faith is what you put your trust in. What you believe. If your spouse puts their faith in you to do what you’ve promised, then you will deliver or disappoint. Faith is belief. Do I think what I have found is the ultimate truth? Yes. Do I think other people think the same about their other religions? Yes.

    What I know is this: when I heard what Jesus Christ did and saw it word for word in the Bible, I believed it and then I took what He did personally. For me. I asked Him to forgive me for my sins and to become my Lord and Savior. Has life been perfect? Absolutely not. But I do have an internal strength that I can call upon at any and every moment. I have a peace that the greatest tragedy can not steal. I have contentment that comes only from knowing that I am right with God and He is on my side.

    It’s free. It’s simple. It’s available for everyone. It has taken religion thousands of years to really twist it up, but Salvation through Jesus Christ is so easy a child can understand it.

    Take care.

  • 7. Stephen  |  March 11, 2007 at 9:53 pm

    Coops,

    However, “faith” (such as the early Christian church that was organic & peaceful & often persecuted for their beliefs) is fantastic.

    By definition, faith is belief without, or in spite of evidence. It has capacity to do good, and may even have evolutionary significance (to make people feel hope). It’s also the primary justification for all the evil done by religion.

  • 8. skywhale  |  March 11, 2007 at 11:46 pm

    Stephen, I disagree with your definition. Faith is belief without conclusive proof, not belief without evidence. Moreover, faith gives weight to intangible experience which wouldn’t be appropriate in a scientific context but could still be quite valid. for instance, I can usually tell when someone is lying, even though I can’t prove it. When my radar goes off about that, I trust it. I have faith that I’m energetically sensitive to the “vibes” someone gives off when they’re not telling the truth. There may also be physical manifestations in eye movements, voice stresses, etc,, that I’m processing unconsciously. In any event, there’s “evidence” even if there isn’t proof. Similarly, there’s “evidence” of God in such things as the mechanism of protein synthesis, which I don’t think anyone can explain in the evolutionary model, because the intermediate steps to get to protein synthesis wouldn’t have had survival value. And there are more subjective phenomena which some of us experience and others don’t which also point to divine intelligence.

  • 9. Stephen  |  March 12, 2007 at 1:10 am

    I don’t have time for a formal reply, so I’ll just pick a couple main points to address.

    First, I wouldn’t call trusting ones senses “faith”. If they turn out to be true more often then not, there’s probably something more to it.

    Second, (even though I personally don’t know enough about the subject), gaps in our knowledge do not necessarily mean “god did it”.

    Just an example:
    2000 years ago: “We do not know what causes lightning, therefore it must be the god Thor throwing lightning bolts from the sky.”
    1500 years ago: “We do not know what causes diseases, therefore they must be punishments from God (and thus prove God’s existence).”
    500 years ago: “We do not know what keeps the planets in their courses. There must be angels pushing them along.”

    I’m not saying we should have blind faith in science. Rather, let’s wait for the evidence before making groundless assumptions invoking the supernatural. They ultimately beg more questions than they answer.

    Personal experience, as you acknowledge, is entirely subjective. Can we agree it doesn’t count as evidence to anyone other than the first-hand witness?

  • 10. skywhale  |  March 12, 2007 at 2:32 am

    I do call my trust in my intuition “faith,” and the same sort of intuitive knowing (among other things) supports my experience of God.

    I agree that it would be unintelligent to automatically ascribe gaps in knowledge to God. What I’m saying is that evolutionary theory can not explain with satisfaction how a vastly complex, interdependent mechanism like protein synthesis came into being, because (1) it could not have come into existence randomly all at once; and (2) each component aspect, had it come into existence randomly, would not have persisted because it wouldn’t have had any functionality and hence no survival value. You can learn all you need to know about the chemistry at

    http://www.ncc.gmu.edu/dna

    I assume you understand evolutionary theory and the concept of survival value. In any event, it’s not about making groundless assumptions, it’s about concluding based on the considerable amount we know about cell chemistry that evolutionary theory doesn’t explain it in a satisfactory way.

    Sure, my subjective experience isn’t evidence to you. I wouldn’t offer it to you as such. But it carries weight with me, as does the fact that the spiritual teachings I follow express, in my subjective assessment, a far greater level of intelligence and sophistication than anything I’ve experienced from any human being. Because that intelligence has earned my respect, I give a lot of weight to what it has to say about metaphysical reality.

    In short, I agree with what you’ve said, and simultaneously don’t relate to it as being relevant to my personal experience or thinking process. I’m aware that many people think in the simple terms you describe, but there are also some of us dealing with all of this on a somewhat different level. In short, I’m suggesting that you’re operating from a stereotype, and that it might be limiting the scope of your thoughts and experience on this subject, because what you’re seeing may seem simple and obvious and not worthy of a lot of mental effort.

  • 11. Brian  |  March 14, 2007 at 4:09 pm

    Is it possible to entirely separate belief in God from the constraints and evils of religion? I think so.

    Religion attempts to explain the unexplainable, to answer the unanswerable. I think God transcends all of the limits that are placed upon him by organized religion.

    If there is a God, He is so much more powerful that we can possibly imagine. Just look at the universe and remember that we are nothing more than a speck in the overall scheme of things.

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

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Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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